RESOLVED: because the death penalty is wrong this house would overturn its use in California.

Next, offer pertinent facts surrounding the resolution. These facts help to frame the issues.

FACTS: The death penalty is currently in use in California. Approximately 250 people are currently on California's death rowi. On average, it takes ten years from the date of conviction for a felon to be executedii.

Issues set up the sides for the debate. Issues have two sides, pro and con, and deal with a combination of facts, values and policies.

(Value) The death penalty is wrong (or right).
(Policy) The death penalty should (or should not) be abolished in CA.

Your advocacy is the side of an issue that you support. This section will contain the bulk of your brief and it will be organized in a "case plan" format. You will advocate either the pro (government) or the con (opposition) of the resolution.


The resolution "Because the death penalty is wrong, this House would overturn its use in California" deals with the fundamental issue of the death penalty's moral "rightness" or "wrongness". The resolution also suggests a course of action that we, this House, should abolish its use. Therefore, we will attempt to establish that the death penalty is indeed wrong and how we can and must effectively abolish its use.

The death penalty is wrong.
Point 1 - Throughout history the source of moral conduct for western civilization has come from the church. From the Holy Bible's Ten Commandments to the dictates of Martin Luther the church tells us how to act responsibly. Currently, the Pope is a leader in the religious community and thus an authority on moral standards. He has publicly decried the death penaltyiii.

Point 2 - There is a commonly accepted phrase in the English vernacular that reads "two wrongs don't make a right". If someone commits a murder, according to this saying, it would not make the matter all right if the offender were executed. Does the death of the murderer bring back the victim?

We should abolish the death penalty.
Point 1 - The death penalty is economically unsound. It costs the California taxpayers approximately 2.6 million dollars to execute a convicted felon. To keep that same felon imprisoned for a life sentence of 50 years it costs about 1.1 million dollarsiv. We are losing money on the death penalty and thus we should get rid of it.

Point 2 - Innocent people may be put to death for a crime that they did not commit. If we abolish the death penalty y it is not too late to reverse a mistake that may have been made. Take for example the case of Sammy the Slasherv. Once it was determined that Sammy had a twin brother who had actually committed the crimes for which he was convicted and executed, it was too late. So, in the infinite wisdom of the courts they tried and convicted Sammy's brother too. He was soon executed as well to join his innocent brother.

"Resolved: Because the death penalty is wrong, this House would overturn its use in California." The government has shown that because the church denounces its use and because two wrongs don't make a right, the death penalty is wrong. Furthermore, because it is economically unsound and because of the inability to fix mistakes the government has also shown that we should discontinue its use. Ladies and gentlemen, Speaker of the House, we beg to propose.


i Smith, Kathleen. "Where Do We Draw the Line?" USA Today 19 Mar 1999: A 12 (Newspaper)

ii Liu, Ching Li. The Long Wait. New York: Allun and Bacon, 1997 (Book)

iiiJohn Paul, Pope. "Leading the Moral Charge into the Millenium." The Vatican, Vatican City, 6 Jun. 1999 (Speech)

iv Jackson, Michael. "The State of the Death Penalty Today." Newsweek June 1999:56-78 (Magazine)

v California v. Samuel Sosa, 835 CA 2nd 654 (1979)(Court Case)